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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Cautious game points to draw at Brighton

Bournemouth have injuries up front

Bournemouth represent value on their trip to Newcastle
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 12.30pm Monday

The new year may not start with a bang when Brighton host Bournemouth in the first Premier League fixture of 2018 and the draw looks like the best bet.

It's getting congested in the bottom half of the Premier League with only six points separating 11th-placed Huddersfield from those in the relegation places and Brighton and Bournemouth both need to be wary despite sitting outside of the bottom three.

A point apiece would inch both clubs closer towards their targets for safety which will probably be in the high 30s and a slightly subdued atmosphere due to the early start may also play its part in what is expected to be a tight contest.

Only Manchester City and Liverpool have left the Amex with maximum points this season which is excellent going for promoted Albion. However, five of their ten games finished level with Southampton, Stoke, Crystal Palace, Everton and Burnley escaping with a point.

Chris Hughton knows he needs a striker in the transfer window – Celtic's Moussa Dembele has been strongly linked – as Brighton look to improve on their tally of just 15 goals scored.

Hughton said Albion were the better side in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Newcastle but they don't find it easy to finish off their opponents.

It could be argued their best chance of scoring comes from Pascal Gross's set-pieces and even though Brighton are competitive virtually every week they have won just once in ten matches.

Bournemouth have also claimed only one victory in their last ten, that success coming in a deserved 2-1 triumph over Everton on Saturday.

However, Josh King was injured in the game, joining Jermain Defoe on the sidelines which dents the visitors' attacking options and the swift turnaround in matches is an inconvenience for Eddie Howe given a number of players are carrying knocks.

There is little to be taken from Bournemouth's recent away record of three straight defeats given those losses came at Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, and the Cherries performed with credit in all three encounters.

Before that Howe's men drew with at Swansea and Crystal Palace and this is a similar challenge to those fixtures.

1pt 11-5 general

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Premier League standings

Team news
Steve Sidwell is Brighton's only confirmed absentee.

Josh King has been ruled out and Eddie Howe said he needs to check on Nathan Ake and Adam Smith. Jermain Defoe and Tyrone Mings are definitely out, while Junior Stanislas and Andrew Surman are major doubts.

Key stat
Fourteen of Brighton's last 17 matches have finished with under 2.5 goals.

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Bournemouth have also claimed only one victory in their last ten, that success coming in a deserved 2-1 success over Everton on Saturday
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